Business of Well-being

Congressional Bill Could Allow Wellness Programs to Require Genetic Testing

Very little is being said about a bill moving through Congress that would allow employers to require its employees enrolled in the company's wellness program to submit to genetic testing. Under this bill, if the employee does not comply, the employer could require them to pay up to 50% more for their insurance.

The bill, HR1313, was approved by the House in mid-March of this year and is set to be folded into a second ACA-related measure.

What will happen if this proposed bill gets passed into law?

  • Employees will be stuck between a rock and hard place. If they decline to participate in the company's wellness program, they will most likely face steeper insurance premiums provided by their employer.
  • Employers may be able to use genetics results to disqualify employees from coverage or increase their premiums.

This bill raises many red flags for both employers and employees, definitely a bill to keep a close eye on in the coming months.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks to help employers create a healthier environment:

  • Provide standing workstations;
  • Stationary bicycles and/or treadmill onsite;
  • Hold onsite yoga and aerobics/pilates classes;
  • Create a walking club that meets at certain times and walks the grounds or facility;
  • Provide onsite nutrition counseling and meal plans;
  • If your facility has a cafeteria, offer heart-healthy choices and offer the food to-go so the employees can take it home;
  • Offer sugar-free, healthy snacks and drinks;
  • If you have breakfast or lunch meetings, offer more fruits, yogurt, salads and eliminate muffins, bagels, sandwiches.
  • Offer use of any existing gym facilities.

Encouraging and supporting employees to become healthier can affect the company's bottom line with fewer employee illnesses, absences, and lower insurance premiums.  Wellness programs can help your employees live longer, happier, healthy lives.

About the Author

As an experienced healthcare executive, Kim Bassett is a strong believer in the "can-do" attitude, focusing on team-building, communication, and creativity to find the "win-win" in every situation. She thrives on challenges, especially those that involve bringing teams and people together to provide exceptional healthcare. Her mission in life is to care for every patient as if they were family.

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